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A Shropshire Lad (Penguin English Journeys #7)

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  1,562 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
Comprised of 63 short poems, this captivating collection lingers on themes of youthfulness and mortality, taking as its setting an idyllic Shropshire countryside. In strikingly simple verses—including the famous stanzas known as "When I was one-and-twenty"—Housman creates beautifully nostalgic and wistful works haunted by the transience of youth in a society in which young ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Hesperus Press (first published 1896)
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Bill  Kerwin
Nov 06, 2007 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The much-anthologized lyrics everyone remembers from this slim volume are memorable for their delicate music and Attic restraint, but many of the sixty-three poems contained herein are pretty forgettable; reiterating the familiar themes of youthful beauty and early death without deepening or enriching them, they often veer dangerously close to self-parody. Still . . . "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now," "To an Athlete Dying Young," "Bredon Hill," "With rue may heart is laden," "Is my team plou
Jan 30, 2011 Manybooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys poetry
I was first introduced to the exquisite poetry of A.E. Housman in my grade ten English class (where we covered British literature from Beowulf to the early 20th century, and oh, how I enjoyed that class). I started to appreciate Housman's poetry then, but I started to really love his poetry when I listened to George Butterworth's lovely and evocative song-cycle rendition of A Shropshire Lad and realisesd that Housman's poems are not just meant to be read, but really and truly are meant to be sun ...more

Picked this up today because I am grieving Endeavour Morse who used to quote from this collection often through the course of his career.

Sixty-three tiny poems urging us to seize the day, not let life just run out without giving all.

Wake: the silver dusk returning
Up the beach of darkness brims,
And the ship of sunrise burning
Strands upon the eastern rims.

Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters,
Trampled to the floor it spanned,
And the tent of
Once I got through the rather dismal first 15 or 20 poems, I quite enjoyed this classic collection. From dreary images of murders, hangings, and suicides, there was a gradual shift to a more lighthearted - if somewhat cynical - tone which was underscored by the rhythmic lilt of the verse.

I began to read these poems in an effort to locate the one poem which purportedly inspired the title of the award-winning novel Earth and High Heaven (by Canadian author Gwethalyn Graham). The exact phrase is fo
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Be forewarned: this review is less about this book than maybe any review on this site has EVER not been about a book (exaggeration is my thing, as of late.) I read this short collection of poems, and I wanted to really turn your heads around in circles with my insightful analysis of its varying components. To tell you all about who Housman was, what he intended to tell you, how/why you should read these poems, and maybe even how you should feel about them. Straight-up-deep-dopeshit. This I canno ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
As a lad I was very fond of one of Housman's poems, Reveille, because it was upbeat and inspirational:

" Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber
Sunlit pallets never thrive;
Morns abed and daylight slumber
Were not meant for man alive.

So when I received my copy of the Folio edition of this book, I expected more of the same. Boy, was I right out to lunch! What utter doom and gloom! Death is present in real or allegorical form in just about every poem. I had never read anything like it from the pen of
Steve Hjerrild
I think I never want to see
Another stanza by A.E.
I pity now the friends of Terence,
And eke his siblings, pets and parents.

For oh, good Lord the verse he made--
Too grim and too much in the shade:
The doomstruck lad, the Severn missed,
The Ludlow fair where he got pissed,

The London blues, the snow-hung orchard,
Young life cut short in syntax tortured,
And favorite of all his themes,
The Shropshire schoolboy's martial dreams.

Brave verse to stop a soldier shirking
By one whose work was patent-clerking.
Oct 01, 2007 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
8/2012 I come to Housman when I'm hollow, when I'm lost, when I'm confused. I come here when I need to come here, and he takes me in, he comforts me with snark, with acute observation, with hilarity and bottomless woe. There's nobody, nobody at all like Housman. I have entire swaths of this by heart, and generally read a poem or two at need. Today I read it cover to cover and was, once again, entirely blown away.

2010: What's to say of Housman? His words are like strange wine that changes one ut
Ronald Wise
Jul 24, 2011 Ronald Wise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This cycle of 63 short poems at first seems to wander from topic to topic with frequent visits to the grave, but in the end I was left with the impression of it as a masterful collective whole. The first poem had me fearing I would have to struggle through archaic phrases, regionalisms, or poetic abstractions. But with the Oxford English Dictionary loaded on my computer, I soon found myself enjoying Housman's verse for his unusual vocabulary and its creative (or was it old-fashioned) use.

His foc
Nov 17, 2007 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Two of my favorites:

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

Now hollows fires burn out to black,
And lights are gu
May 17, 2009 Melusina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful. A slim poetry collection about death and loss that ranks among the best I have read in a long time. Some call it pathetic, I call it genius.
This wasn't at all what I was expecting. I think I vaguely knew that there was a lot of beautiful golden youth, dead before their time. I also vaguely knew - or thought I knew - that A Shropshire Lad had been packed into the rucksack of every WWI Tommy, a reminder of the arcadia they were defending in the hell of the trenches. I'm a 'Shropshire Lad' myself, and this is very much the image you pick up from the book's footprint on local culture:


There's very little that's comforting in these poems
Deceptively simplistic, this collection ranges along the varied experiences and nuances of life itself. Love, death, defeat, fleeting victory, eventual demise and a general feeling of transience--A.E. Housman reminds us continually that we are but a page in a book we can never see entirely. Housman's Shropshire, in all its pastoral idyllic beauty, never existed any more than Margaret Mitchell's romanticized South, or even Hardy's Wessex. No matter. His themes are universal and readily accessible ...more
Richard Smith
Aug 25, 2016 Richard Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn’t realised that A Shropshire Lad is a whole series of poems. I knew well “those blue remembered hills…the land of lost content” and “loveliest of trees, the cherry now/Is hung with bloom along the bough, but I didn’t know the other 61 poems, although I must have bumped up against some of them.

And I associated them with the First World War, imagining that they were written after the war and were filled with nostalgia for a world that was gone. They are filled with nostalgia for a world tha
Jul 19, 2012 Gwern rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Shropshire Lad
(8.3k words; 1.5 hours; Wikisource edition) A.E. Housman's first collection of 63 poems. I enjoy his terse, rhyming style of very short lines, which he somehow makes look easy and almost conversational, particularly poems II, IV, XXIII, XXX, XXXIII, XLIV, XLIX, LXII, LXIII; it's particularly impressive how completely consistent they all are with each other. This consistency meant that when I read the parodies quoted on Wikipedia, I found them very funny.

It is short enough that th
Cooper Renner
Oct 02, 2012 Cooper Renner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember if I first encountered Housman's poetry in high school or college. And I've probably read most, if not all, of these poems before, some of them more than once. Reading it straight through now (which I may well have done before). Certainly one's younger self is probably drawn to the melancholy, but the strong usage of the folk/hymnal quatrain is greatly appealing to me as the quatrain is probably my favorite formal stanza.

Not every poem is perfect, but Housman's batting average
Feb 01, 2009 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian, 1890s, poems
Moping, melancholy, mad ... an anthology of morose poems that lingers far too long on the themes of death and loss, A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad (1895) lay nearly forgotten until the outbreak of World War I, when its nostalgia, gloomy imagery, and fatal stoicism suited the tenor of the time. The poems, mostly cast as ballads, are easy to read and reminded me often both of Kipling's ballads and of some of Yeats' early work. But I was disappointed that Housman didn't develop his themes more el ...more
J. Alfred
I suppose most of what I've read of Housman before was his cynical older stuff, which I suppose follows necissarily from someone who writes stuff like this. According to the poems in this volume, the world is composed almost entirly of young men and women who are either in love with one another, dying, or both. It's a kind of stupid romanticism that modern poets wouldn't be caught dead with. Also, Housman is an angry sort of skeptic, which gets old after a while, as do his insistances on full rh ...more
Apr 30, 2013 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For poetry month I pulled this copy off my shelf and started reading a few poems each day. I was introduced to Housman in freshman lit in college and have loved his poems ever since. But I found that a lot of time has passed in the 40+ years since I first read about the "cherry trees hung with snow." And I found that I had a different, more melancholy reaction to this poem and to his other poems, most of which deal with death, loss and longing for home. I still love Housman, but in a whole diffe ...more
Jun 05, 2008 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I knew so many of these poems without realising it. My favourite is the one that begins: "White in the moon the long road lies..."
May 04, 2012 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the whole book aloud, in the backyard, on the swingset.
It was lovely.
Jun 11, 2014 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, poetry, 4-star, uk-ireland

--A Shropshire Lad

Notes to the Text
Index of First Lines
Laurel Hicks
There are a few real gems here.
Jan 02, 2017 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this didn't really do it for me. I recall liking Spoon River Anthology, so I thought I would like this one. I'm glad I read it, and I wouldn't consider it a waste of time.
Persephone Abbott
Jan 10, 2017 Persephone Abbott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have sung a few of these poems set to music by Vaughn Williams. I found this collection surprisingly attractive in its entirety and riveting. Admittedly the reiteration of themes does get slightly dull, however the freshness of the verse, the ease of the thought process, which perhaps in one manner or concept may be viewed as roughing it or purposely unsophisticated, reverberates with a love and sense of belonging and thwarted destiny.
three facts about me + a shropshire lad:

1. obviously my interest in this book was nurtured by tom stoppard's the invention of love. also gotta support the alternative undertakings of classicists, ya feel? haha I'm a classics major haha.

2. i mean i was never intensely interested in reading housman (nor, honestly, do i really know who manlius is, but that's another discussion), but a week ago after work, i decided, i need to go the iliad alone after this and noodle over some books. so i drove to
Jan 12, 2017 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael McGrinder
May 25, 2014 Michael McGrinder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, housman
My copy is wonderfully aged, printed in 1922, with uneven pages, now yellowing, brittle, and beginning to crumble, and a cover that's battered, splattered, foxed and dented. Housman was parochial with an apparent death wish. His poetry was overly sentimental, even treacly, but on a few, well-noted occasions, he took flight and soared to heights of genuine beauty. The brevity and lyricism of his best known poems lend themselves to being read aloud, almost demand it. Though untitled, you'll recogn ...more
Oct 12, 2009 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I forgot I was reading this until I came across it tidying up. There are some excellent verses here. It does seem slightly disjointed (probably doesn't help that I waited so long before finishing it).

Some of my favorites:

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since
Terence Manleigh
With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfoot lad.

These lines capture perfectly the mood and tone of A. E. Housman’s remarkably beautiful “A Shropshire Lad” (1896), which I’ve just finished after reading it twice through. I have seldom been as moved by a book of poems.

Housman’s poems are overwhelmingly elegiac. Unrequited love, early death, melancholy, aching homesickness for a rural paradise lost – these are his subjects. And yet we’re not in
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  • The Ring and the Book
  • Renascence and Other Poems
  • Dover Beach and Other Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems
  • The Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne
  • The Collected Poems
  • Complete Poems
  • The Selected Poems
  • The War Poems
  • The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes And Misfortunes, His Friends And His Greatest Enemy
  • The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play
  • Auden: Poems
  • Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • The Hunting of the Snark
  • High Windows
  • The Complete Poems (Poetry Library)
Alfred Edward (A.E.) Housman was a noted classical scholar and a poet. To the wider public he is best known for his poem "A Shropshire Lad" (1896), while to his fellow classicists it is his critical editing of Manilius that has earned him enduring fame.

Housman was born on March 26, 1859 in Fockbury, Worcestershire, England, the eldest of seven children. A gifted student Housman won a scholarship t
More about A.E. Housman...

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“Because I liked you better
Than suits a man to say,
It irked you, and I promised
I'd throw the thought away.

To put the world between us
We parted stiff and dry:
'Farewell,' said you, 'forget me.'
'Fare well, I will,' said I.

If e'er, where clover whitens
The dead man's knoll, you pass,
And no tall flower to meet you
Starts in the trefoiled grass,

Halt by the headstone shading
The heart you have not stirred,
And say the lad that loved you
Was one that kept his word.”
“Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea
And still the sea is salt.”
More quotes…